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Saturday, December 19, 2015

DEP, JKLM Share Details On Water Pollution Incident

DEP, JKLM Share Details On Water Pollution Incident


Blauvelt
Scott Blauvelt
Potter County Natural Gas Resource Center hosted a public meeting on Thursday at the Gunzburger Building in Coudersport. Among agenda items were presentations by representatives of the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) and JKLM Energy LLC about the incident that occurred at JKLM’s Reese Hollow (Sweden Township) well pad in September, and the results of the investigation thus far. In mid-September, when JKLM Energy was drilling into bore hole on a shale gas well pad, the company used prohibited chemicals to retrieve a broken drill bit from a depth of about 570 feet of an uncased borehole. Within two days came the first report of “soapy” water from home systems.

Much of Thursday’s presentation by both DEP and JKLM focused on the investigation into pollution of private water wells and the specific compounds that were used in addition to about 22,000 gallons of fresh water to free the bit, only to seep into a rock fissure and enter the ground water. Speakers emphasized that, at this point, tests do not show that any water supply contains pollutants from the spill that exceed safe drinking water standards, but monitoring will continue for several months.

Kohl
Marcus Kohl
JKLM has said a surfactant — a soap-like substance of which isopropanol is a major component — and rock oil, a lubricant for air hammers, were released. Some members of the audience continued to press for more details on the specific constituents and their concentrations. Water samples have been taken from home wells, surface water and public water supply wells. DEP has had water samples analyzed for indications of soap, 65 volatile and 68 semi-volatile organic compounds and 23 metals. Since the investigation opened, DEP has received 14 complaints from homeowners about water contaminants. Six showed an impact, one showed no impact and seven are currently being evaluated. According to Scott Blauvelt, director of regulatory affairs for JKLM, shortly after residents downstream noticed water problems, the company contacted DEP to launch an investigation. Three days later, JKLM began providing potable water to the affected residences.

Representatives from Penn E&R, an environmental engineering and energy consulting company, spoke about their role in responding to and monitoring wells, data collection and hydrological investigations. In three months, Penn E&R has collected 600 water samples from 120 sites. These samples are then sent to three accredited laboratories for analysis for components. JKLM plans to install treatment systems on some of the private water systems that were affected, with the first one slated for January 2016.

DEPTeam
 

Two public water suppliers who draw from sources downgradient from the spill site off North Hollow Road — Coudersport Borough and Charles Cole Memorial Hospital — switched to alternative sources as a safety precaution. Four monitor wells have been installed on the well pad and water samples are being taken. Plugging of the gas well, in compliance with DEP standards, was completed on Nov. 18. Blauvelt said the company does not expect to return to that site. JKLM does, however, have plans for extensive drilling in Potter County in the coming years. The company has invested more than $100 million in Potter County over the past few years, much of it paid to private landowners for subsurface drilling rights.

Marcus Kohl, director of DEP’s Williamsport Regional Office, discussed the agency’s response to the Sweden Township incident as well as some ongoing issues the department has been asked to address to assure greater protection of public water sources as gas drilling intensifies. Four other DEP officials also addressed the audience.

Attendees of Thursday’s meeting also heard:
  • a report on a statewide task force that’s making recommendations for pipeline construction regulations;
  • information on solar and wind energy projects in the region;
  • an update on the data logger/water monitoring project in the upper Allegheny River and Mill Creek being implemented by the Potter County Conservation District, Upper Allegheny Watershed Assn. and other partners;
  • a report on the proposed local partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey for a groundwater monitoring project;
  • details on broad-based effort to persuade DEP to include delineated sourcewater protection zones in its consideration of permit requests for land disturbance activities, particularly gas and oil drilling
NGRCPotter County Natural Gas Resource Center was formed in 2012 as a successor organization to the Potter County Natural Gas Task Force. It is hosted by the Potter County Education Council at the Potter County Education Center on Water Street in Coudersport. A Steering Committee guides the Resource Center’s activities. Membership includes Jim Clark, Al Haney, Curt Weinhold, Bryan Phelps, John McLaughlin,Terry Cole, Joe Pagano, Commissioners Doug Morley, Susan Kefover and Paul Heimel, and representatives of the Potter County Education Council. See NGRC website at naturalgasresourcecenter.com.

(Portions of this meeting summary were excerpted from a story by Fran DeLancey, reporter for the Bradford Era.)

4 comments :

Anonymous said...

wake up all involved are paid with dirty money They could care less.Follow the money

Anonymous said...

"Couldn't care less", think about it.

Anonymous said...

As my liberal friends would say this is old news lets move on !!!

Anonymous said...

Drill baby drill let's turn that bit to the right and watch the dust fly....